National Park(ing) Day

National Park(ing) Day 2008, an annual event, is coming up on September 19th. It celebrates parks in cities by creating temporary parks in public parking spaces. National Park(ing) Day is an all-volunteer event, and any participation is welcome. One can, build his or her own park, help others build parks, or simply visit Park(ing) Day parks throughout the day. Get the details here, a how-to manual, photos and videos, or to connect with participants near you.

Water Walk

In Chicago, we drink out of Lake Michigan, so things like this matter:

Two Anishinawbe Grandmothers, and a group of Anishinawbe Women and Men have taken action regarding the water issue by walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes.

Along with a group of Anishinabe-que and supports, they walked around Lake Superior in Spring 2003, around Lake Michigan in 2004, Lake Huron in 2005, Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007.

…to raise awareness that our clean and clear water is being polluted by chemicals, vehicle emissions, motor boats, sewage disposal, agricultural pollution, leaking landfill sites, and residential usage is taking a toll on our water quality. Water is precious and sacred…it is one of the basic elements needed for all life to exist.

More about the walk and news from this year walking around Lake Michigan again.

The Casa Experiment: Mission Accomplished, and Next Steps

Big news from Theresa Williamson in Rio…

Catalytic Communities’ (CatComm) five-year experiment of launching and running the “Casa” community technology hub for leaders in downtown Rio has accomplished its mission!

…Community leaders from Rio de Janeiro and beyond found in the Casa the possibility to articulate themselves as a network and strengthen their local projects using digital tools.

Over the past 5 years, the Casa has served 1050 community leaders from 215 neighborhoods across the city of Rio de Janeiro. An additional 400 journalists, university professors and students, NGO activists and others have also shared in the space. And people from 23 of Brazil’s 26 states have attended events, not to mention 22 nations.

AND NOW… in 2009 CatComm will launch a new version of our CatComm.org website, where, in addition to searching for local projects from the four corners of the globe to serve as inspiration… community organizers will be able to participate in the likes of a “virtual Casa” – an online space for sharing experiences, capacity-building, fundraising opportunities, and dialogue with other leaders and volunteers the world over.

Go! Go! Go!

UPDATE: Theresa just pointed me to these pictures from OpenSpace1, OpenSpace2, and OpenSpace3. I did some coaching with her some time ago to get them started in Open Space. It does indeed make me a happy camper to see these results!

GOforChange.com

Nope, not a new Obama website.

GOforChange.com highlights the people and organizations in Baltimore-Washington who are working for positive change. This is a place where people can come to get information, learn something unexpected, and be inspired to take action. More on Mission…

The posts are short. The pictures give colorful views of encouraging work. Interesting and relevant beyond their regional focus.

The Story of Service

MEDICO’s mission is to provide medical, eye and dental services in remote areas of Central America where there is little or no access to health care. MEDICO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit humanitarian service organization based in Georgetown, Texas.

I learned this from their website after Brian Crowe stumbled upon my website and Open Space materials, and sent me an email. I was impressed to find that they’ve been at this for 18 years, have served 150,000+ patients served, and are now reporting action and progress in a weblog. Trading emails, interested in helping out.

I like to think that MEDICO, Kiva, DonorsChoose and the people who run (and join) these groups are part of an emerging Story of Service that is what comes after The Story of Stuff.

Inviting Digital Literacy

Michael Maranda is doing short interviews with people on the street, asking them what they know about the Chicago citywide wifi proposal, where they get their news, what they know about the internet, and how they use it.

This is all part of his work locally, statewide and nationally to cultivate digital literacy, otherwise known as bridging the digital divide. He’s organizing 77 community groups citywide to make sure that the citywide wifi contract will serve ALL of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

He’s posting the interviews at YouTube. I guess, in a few days, he’s going to post the one he filmed with me earlier this week — so go look now before that one posts! And Michael — I think your demographic sampling is a bit off!

Inviting Structures for Neighborhood Improvement

Mike Morin shares an interesting, practical, (and concise) neighborhood-based approach to rearranging our economic systems. He proposes a new structure, what he calls a Neighborhood Improvement Fund (a local sort of mutual fund), as the core of the shift. He favors equity unions over micro-lending arrangements, suggests a list of core operating principles (ideals), and outlines the basic structure and function of a Neighborhood Improvement Fund.

Inviting Good Neighbors to Register

I met Cheryl Honey earlier this week at the international Transformative Mediation conference in Minnesota. She’s the creator of something called Community Weaving and the Family Support Network. Taken together they are a wildly ambitious — and effective — application of Asset-Based Community Development.

Cheryl and friends have created a site that allows anyone to register as a good neighbor and add skills, abilities, interests, experiences and other contributions to a national “resource treasury.” The treasury is searchable by geography, interest, skill, need, and many other ways — but only after you register.

I just registered myself in Chicago, and was able to find several others here to connect with. One of them is even listed as a facilitator of Open Space. I’d like to see the C3 leaders start registering here, too. There is a special designation for groups and we could use that for C3.

Inviting Positive Societal Transformation
in Nepal

This in from my colleagues in Nepal last week, the third iteration of the Summit meeting we started in 2004:

It is our great pleasure to inform you that the third national summit of imagine initiatives of Nepal is successfully concluded on 10 September,2006 in Pokhara. The three day summit made a clear way about how NAINN, Regional Networks and Imagine Initiatives have to move forward in the changed context of Nepal.

The participants discussed on the roles of AI people and organizations. The entire nation is eagerly waiting for ‘NEW NEPAL’ (NAINN’s Ultimate Goal, set in the first summit, 2004). The election of Constituent Assembly and new constitution are at the gate. We AI people and organizations have to play a vital role now so that the election and constituent will be able to address the desire, wishes and need of people.

We can go to the people in the grassroots, every corner of the country and every individual. We can make the people clear how they can make their nation and future bright being positive. NAINN and Imagine Initiatives can facilitate to make the best constituent. This is what discussed in the summit.

The second important thing we discussed in the summit is that we all will continue gearing up the ‘positive mind setting’ and ‘positive societal transformation’ movements this year as well but faster…

Looking forward to joining them in November, for one-day Open Space meeting to follow up on this and other work.

Inviting Individual Actions to Meet

Some of us are talking now about the invitation to a Chicago Summer 2007 conference that would be the extension of our Giving Conference in 2004 and Omidyar Member conferences in 2005 and 2006.

In writing the invitation, I suggested we focus on what it is we’re interested in, and who we *would* invite, rather than the groups of people that we think *should* be there. Too often, *should* begins as a fantasy and ends up as the excuse for NOT acting, not inviting. Better to focus on what we already care about and the people we already know or really want to meet and connect with.

Here is my interest and what/who I’d like to invite in Chicago:

…i’ve just finished the city’s conservation corps training. i’m giving a lot of attention to food, transportation and water practices. i’m also thinking about the nature of practices and habits. i’m still interested in a less visceral way in philanthropy and education.

i’m most interested in spending time with a group that would be willing to identify, share, expand and strengthen the body of things they are doing that seem to be part of the ‘solution.’ everything from turning off lights and faucets to conserve, buying organic, recycling, to organizing new foundations or community projects — or growing old ones, blogging and connecting other ideas, homeschooling, housing coop. whatever. i’m just into hearing more and more about what others are doing NOW that seems like it must be part of “the world we want.”

when i first went to outward bound, winter mountaineering in colorado, the told us it wasn’t about ‘survival’ skills… but about learning to be comfortable and easy in strange, quite often harsh, conditions and surroundings. that’s what i’d like now… to be with a bunch of folks who are good at a bunch of things that SUPPORT LIFE. i’m interested in things that help us feel more alive, as individuals and communities. how can we unfold more life and power out of the things we already have, already know, and already are doing? what are the simple things we can do now or next, to cultivate more LIFE — to be more comfortable and easy in the world we want?

i’d be most interested in spreading an invitation around chicago networks that i’m connected/ing with and at the same time having our central question or theme (different from design or outcomes) be something that is universal enough that many might choose to come from afar. giving, more good things happen, personal power and action, community connections… the sorts of broad themes we’ve had in the past work for me because i could be working on growing and inviting a chicago group of people and still invite and include friends and colleagues from afar. to the extent that any local group(s) would grow and prosper, it could be a easily replicated elsewhere.

My own proposal for theme: ALL AT ONCE.

more and more, we are being asked to do many things at once — not just multi-tasking, but be aware of many different views and realities at once, to function in conflicting roles, to accept conflicting realities, and change many habits… ALL AT ONCE

what are the issues and opportunities for practicing all of the things that we need to do personally and socially to cultivate and support more and more LIFE in ourselves and the world, working and living together to create the world we want. all at once is for all the things we do… and all the groups and networks in which we do it. what if we could do and gather all of those… ALL AT ONCE?

Would you join ALL AT ONCE? …or propose something else? You can join the planning conversation here. The bit about interests and theme comes up later in the thread, about here.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day

The City of Chicago has scheduled its third Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Collection event of the year. Materials will be accepted on Saturday, August 12 from 8am to 3 pm at the North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski.

Residents can rid their homes of old light bulbs, computers, computer printer cartridges, televisions, cell phones in addition to old paint cans, solvents, cleaners and other dangerous chemicals that can cause major health problems, for children and adults. Old gasoline cans that do not effectively keep fuel fumes sealed will be accepted as well as old medications.

Bloggers Choose

I missed a piece. This should have been part of yesterday’s linkage, but just as well to have it standing here on its own. This might come closest to the original vision of sCNN.

BloggersChoose is a program of DonorsChoose. It’s a way for bloggers to invite attention and giving to specific, large- and small-scale projects in need of support.

This from their launch:

…bloggers can visit our website, look through a list of projects that teachers are requesting for their classrooms, and select one or more to ask their readers’ help to fund.

We want bloggers to take an active role in this project. We’re excited about the potential blogs have to broaden both our outreach and the results we produce for teachers and students.

In our beta test, the readers of one blog, Tomato Nation, raised more than $30,000 for New York City public schools. But don’t let that overwhelm you – another blog managed to raise $500 from my readers, which fully funded a middle-school literacy project and bought tadpoles for first graders in Brooklyn.

No amount is too small (or too large): projects awaiting funding right now range from $147 for a set of dictionaries in San Francisco to $8,578 for a new playground field in South Carolina.

All of these projects that need funding are youth and school-related, proposed by active teachers.

Small Change News Linkage

Here are some things I’ve been wanting to write into the Small Change News record for some time. You will recall that Small Change was about market-type exchanges of information (stories) and resources (including funding), between “little individuals,” toward positive impact. So these are interesting new markets and new kinds of giving and sharing:

Prosper.com – A market for small-scale loans. Think eBay for money. People post stories, have reputation scores (credit ratings), and others can loan money and make interest. The future of banking?

Kiva.org – Another micro-lending site, this one for small business entrepreneurs in developing countries. As far as I can tell, these are no-interest loans, so the interest we give up by lending here is another form of charitable giving.

GrassCommons.org – is publishing information that helps consumers make ordinary purchasing decisions in line with their values and the common good. we become what we buy. spend smart!

GoodNewsNetwork.org – Geri Weis-Corbley calls GNN “news that reflects our values”. This comes pretty close to the original vision for sCNN. Lots of little individuals out there doing good things.

Pledgebank.com has been mentioned here before, but is another one that fits with these and is very much in line with the sCNN vision. Needs can be posted and funding pledged. No payments charged until the project is fully funded.

Glad to see these kinds of markets springing up, especially the loan markets.

Meanwhile have been talking with Phil Cubeta last week about the next generation of Giving Conference. Raising the four core questions that came out of the sCNN work: What do we want? Have? Need? And what will we Do? …in that conversation and in C3 conversations this past weekend. I know the GrassCommons and GNN folks through RecentChangesCamp, a Giving Conference spin-off, so our Giving Conference and sCNN work just keeps going, and growing.

Inviting Philanthropy

Chris Weaver shared a bit of his model for “State of Grace Philanthropy” today, by email. His approach focuses on projects and retreats and leads to “State of Grace” documents for sustained project funding and action — all of which got me thinking about my own model for what I might call Inviting Philanthropy. What follows is distilled from my work on Small Change News over the last two years, since the Giving Conference which Phil Cubeta recently summarized.

First, philanthropy is about love, care, and people. We might generalize to include all beings. We might acknowledge current use and practice and allow that it now means something about money and resouces, action and results. Inviting Philanthropy is about all of that.

Next, the basic model. Start with some people with projects, and also some people with funding. These can be all from one project or issue area, or a diverse group. Projects and funding at any level are okay, what matters is passion and a willingness to commit. Recognize that the project people have some money, and the money people have some ideas about projects. Ask everyone to write the answer to four questions, providing whatever one-on-one coaching is needed in order for them to articulate:

  • What do I want (to see in the world)?
  • What do I have to offer now?
  • What do I need to move forward?
  • What will I do when I get what I need?

Now, invite everyone together, in Open Space, to work on Philanthropic Action: Issues and Opportunities. All manner of caring and commitment are welcome, actively invited. The ticket to enter is that you’ve answered these four questions. Copies of everyone’s 4-part statement are available on a table. In the course of the conversations, people pass out these statements like business cards, and refer to them like we refer to websites… “oh, yes, there’s a bit about that there in my answer to #2.” In this way, what is wanted, what is available, what is needed and what is willing are all mixed together.

In the last segment of the Open Space meeting, imagine Sunday afternoon of a 2-day weekend program, there is an invitation to focus on specific projects that might go forward. The invitation is to merge any number of individual statements into one project statement. Add to that a “State of Grace” spin on things that will help the group ride out any potential conflicts.

Rinse and Repeat. Do this on an ongoing basis, probably quarterly, and allow all of the statements, for individuals and projects, to be updated and shared in a new round of Open Space.

Publish everything, the notes from breakout sessions, the personal statements, the project statements, and especially the project news reports, as things actually get done.

Invite care. Invite coherence. Invite conversation. Invite collaboration. Publish everything and everyone point friends and colleagues to the website, and bring colleagues to the retreats. Inviting Philanthropy.

Chicago Conservation Corps

I’m halfway through a remarkable program being run by the City of Chicago, Department of Environment. It’s 12 hours of training classes, four resources-rich info dump sessions on Land, Air, Energy, Water and Community. Twenty-six of us are going through the program, each one pledging in advance to initiate and lead some sort of conservation or awareness project this summer.

I’m not sure if it’s my offical project or not, but it IS a project — we’ve initiated a Chicago Conservation Corps weblog. Grounding, grounding, grounding, I am. It feels great to be using skills and tools developed around the globe with people I can actually join for lunch and barbecues without buying a plane ticket.

Nice to write about something solid, for which we already have solid language. This post about the I-Go Car Sharing program helped me remember that I really do know how to write! A welcome break from all this fuzzy fishing about for the language of Inviting Leadership. It’s fun to use words that are already commonly defined and understood, for a change!

Chicago Conservation Corps

I went to the orientation meeting for the new Chicago Conservation Corps volunteer leadership program last night. Very exciting stuff from a big city government — actively inviting individuals and offering direct and open support for community projects.

Applications for the 4-week program are due May 15th, and attendance at the orientation — to understand the commitment — is required:

You care. Do something. We’ll help.
Rain gardens. Recycling. Alternative transportation. Energy efficient homes. Get trained with the Chicago Conservation Corps and develop an environmental improvement project for your community. To learn more, attend an orientation May 6, 9, 11 or 13 at locations throughout the city. Visit the website or call (312) 743-9283 to register.

When the city initiated the green rooftop at City Hall five years ago, there was only one contractor in the country who could do the required work. Now there are twenty in the City and more than 69 acres of green roof. Looking forward to learning and contributing to the next waves of work on transportation, water, energy, food and other essential community issues here. Join us?

National Debt and Local Exchange

Here are two things I read today about money. First the bad news via Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning newsletter…

The U.S. Treasury Department also comes up with a number for how much Americans actually owe, thanks to federal deficits. Are you sitting down? It’s a chunky number: $750,000 per household. That’s what you get when you take the total commitments of the feds – $49 trillion -and divide them by the number of families.

The Financial Times goes on to note that it took 204 years for the U.S. government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. Now, it adds that much every 18 months. George W. Bush has added more debt than any president who ever lived. In fact, he’s added more debt than all the presidents who ever lived…combined.

…and then the good news, via Penny at BALLE-BC, an excellent (even nine years later!) YES! magazine interview with Bernard Lietaer, usually credited as the architect of the Euro…

…in France, there are now 300 local exchange networks, called Grain de Sel, literally “Grain of Salt.” These systems – which arose exactly when and where the unemployment levels reached about 12 percent – facilitate exchanges of everything from rent to organic produce, but they do something else as well. Every fortnight in the Ariege, in southwestern France, there is a big party. People come to trade not only cheeses, fruits, and cakes as in the normal market days, but also hours of plumbing, haircuts, sailing or English lessons. Only local currencies accepted!

I wonder if we have any such currency communities springing up around Chicago… and what gifts, skills and goods I might offer in such exchanges. What good will fancy clothes and advanced degrees be in these local marketplaces?

UPDATE: Lietaer in Ode Magazine, as well.

UPDATE: more on money beyond peak oil

More from Nepal

Three and one half years ago in Nepal, my friends and colleagues working for peaceful development dared not speak the word “Maoist” in public, not in anything louder than a whisper, that is. When it was mentioned in private, eyes darted around the room, as if checking for bugs, and gauging the safety of saying anything about the political turmoil then brewing. How far things have come since then, as reported by Joy in Kathmandu:

So, we are cautiously thinking that this continuing revolution in Nepal may be bearing fruit, may be leading the nation closer to the representative democracy wanted by the vast majority of the people. It has been calmer the past 24 hours. That’s relative, of course. The demonstrations have actually gotten much bigger – hundreds of thousands in some locations – and involve pretty much every strata of society, including those with a lot to lose. There is still brutality and out-of-control retaliation from the police and the army, people are still being beaten and shot, but the outcry is so widespread, the international pressure being brought to bear is so huge… more …more …and photos …see also previous days postings.

These protests aren’t against the Maoist rebels, but for democracy in general, against the obstacles created by the King’s rule now, against waiting any longer for the King, the rebels, the political parties to figure out how to lead. May peace reign soon.

BrainJam in New Orleans

Been talking with Chris Heuer about the Open Space dimension of this…

BrainJams New Orleans – Big Announcement!

On Thursday May 4th we are going to bring the best of Web 2.0 to the New Orleans small business community in what could be one of the biggest Unconferences of the year. This will be a day of conversation, peer to peer learning, and developing a better understanding of how the technology community can serve the needs of this vitally important city as it comes back from the trajedy that was Katrina. Our goal is to help small businesses understand how they can make the most of blogs, social networks, tagging, wikis and other collaboration tools – but I have a feeling that much more will come of this. More…

I’m impressed with the work Chris is doing on the ground, but also the depth or background of his work, as he’s just back from an Art of Hosting workshop, working on these sorts of questions

  • When have I truly lived my passion and what in particular was powerful about this?
  • What do I now sense is the next level of my passion and practice?
  • If this is the next level of my passion and practice, what could stop or come in the way of this?
  • What is the burning question that will help me step more fully into the fire of my hosting?

This marriage of depth and action, internal and external, personal and social, seems essential now, in all of our work.